Phew. What a week our first week in Tulum has been. In our hot and sticky jungle lair we have seen the unthinkable come to pass: that man won the election in the USA. Supposedly the greatest nation on earth has let itself down by voting a dangerous megalomaniac in to power. I understand protest votes (even if I think they’re stupid) and I understand fully that the USA is a land of incredible and unforgivable contrasts between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ but I can’t see that voting in a man who is not only actively racist and misogynistic but also proud of his own lack of knowledge is ever going to help fix those problems. Especially because he couldn’t be further from being a ‘one of us’ for at least 99.999% of the world’s population. And then today I read that not even half of eligible voters actually even bothered to vote in this election. Yeah, cheers lazy Americans. You chose not to vote for a bright, powerful, and hard working woman only to allow the election of that man? We appreciate that, truly we do. We Brits already fucked up Europe this year, did you have to see it as a competition?
And then, this morning we awoke to the news that my only musical hero has died. Leonard Cohen, writer and singer of the music forced upon me for many years by my dad until it eventually became a part of my very being, died. I don’t think a death of anyone famous has ever touched me before but his death really does sadden me.
2016, you suck.
However, I am currently living in Tulum, a teeny weeny town on the edge of the jungle by the glorious sea. Tulum is a fairly new town that is still hacking its way out of the jungle. Our road isn’t paved and it just peters out about 100m from our door, and jungle takes over. We walk down roads to school and to town that have jungle on both sides. We spot amazing multi-coloured birds on our walks and try to figure out which is making which amazing noise. We see lizards and iguanas all over the place.
It is about a 10 minute walk to school in the morning. I leave home at 0745 (Col and the kids come an hour later as I do a yoga class before Spanish classes start) and walk along these jungle roads. I walk past small large, expat owned, gated compounds (one in which we are living) and teeny tiny holdings where people live in small tin shacks amongst their banana trees and papaya trees, cooking in the open air. In many ways it is reminiscent of my small village in Rwanda. This early morning walk, alone with my thoughts, the stray dogs and the smell of open fires really does take me straight back to Kayonza. It makes me smile every morning.
I’ve been told that there are monkeys, snakes, tarantulas and jaguars in the jungle as well as lots of huge and incredible birds. We haven’t seen anything interesting yet but we also haven’t strayed off the road because, well, we’re not stupid!
This jungle paradise really is sheltering us from the worst the world is throwing at us (or are we throwing it at the world?). On the morning of the shock election result I awoke to a flurry of texts from family, had a quick chat with Col (maybe shed a tear or two) and then went to school. We had a quick discussion about the result with the teacher before our grammar lesson where he declared he predicted this months ago before telling us it was time to move on to grammar. In our conversation class we were allowed two minutes each on the subject only. I heard Col having a lot more opportunity to chat about it all but he has different teachers to me. I know our teachers care a lot but I get the impression that in general Mexicans seem to feel that a stupid, racist president to the north makes little difference to them – US presidents come and go but they have enough to deal with their own crappy politicians without worrying too much about the USA’s idiocies. That said, jokes about the wall aren’t met with huge belly laughs! I haven’t had much opportunity to read the newspapers because there’s a dearth of good ones in Tulum and the headlines I have seen have been local rather than international. The one person anyone trusts here is a woman who publishes on FB and when I looked she really only had a round-up and translation of papers from other countries. That said, I know I need to find out more about how Mexicans are seeing what’s happened.
A few people have asked us if we’re from the USA (you can’t say American here because Mexicans feel very strongly that America refers to the continent and therefore they’re Americans too. You have to say you’re from the USA) and have been quite pleased to find we aren’t! They have immediately said that England is better than the USA and have been surprised at our tirade against British politics (and I haven’t even told them my views on the monarchy!).
My teacher asked why we love Mexico so much and why we are interested in trying to stay for a decent length of time. He feels that Mexico is dangerous thanks to the drug cartels and the government. He said that twenty years ago Mexico was truly a paradise but now it’s depressing and dangerous. He loathes the president of Mexico with a passion that seems to equal my dislike for Theresa May and the monarchy! In fact, we may have tried to do a swap. I tried to explain to him that although I’m not totally unaware of the issues Mexico faces, they just aren’t my issues because this isn’t my home. Even if I lived here for a few years I could always walk away if things got too bad. Sadly, I don’t seem to be able to walk away from an idiot country that is busy burning bridges with Europe. I wasn’t saying this to be selfish or to suggest I don’t care about Mexican politics, because I do, but because it’s true. The problems in the UK are likely to always be the primary political issues for me unless we do actually settle somewhere else long term. As a tourist or short-term expat one is always slightly outside of the country’s problems. I’m not entirely sure I conveyed this well in clumsy Spanish and I really hope my teacher doesn’t think I don’t give a damn, I was just trying to be honest.